Update on the Progress of the Restoration, January 2017

Om Tuesday January 24th members of the Project Team gave an update on the progress of the restoration projects in the Park and the Large Mansion to an audience of around 70 people at the Old Actonians’ club house in Popes Lane.

The various slide presentations have been assembled into one document which you can download here. It is a large document and may take a few minutes to download.

These are some of the major points which arose during the meeting.

Because of discoveries made during the works some changes have had to be made with the result that both Mansion and Landscape projects are running late.

Elements of the restored landscape will be opened as they are completed and the aim is to have the new Café open this summer. The Large Mansion, the Orangery and the Round Pond have presented the major difficulties. The (unplanned) new clay lining to the Round Pond means it can be refilled soon. The stone cornice of the Orangery is having to be rebuilt. Work on the Large Mansion has revealed many difficulties with this Grade II* listed building, but as the restoration work has to be done to the highest standard, the timetable has had to be extended. The scaffolding wrap will stay in place which the new render dries out and construction work will probably end early in 2018. The Museum will open in the Summer of 2018. The costs of the project are being kept within the budget.

Page 7 showed the future budget. The whole estate (Museum, Café, Sport and Recreation) will be supported by both Councils (as it has been) and will have to increase its income to £1.25m each year. A lot of income will depend on the range of events and activities which the new management puts on. The plan is to recruit the “non-executive” directors for the Community Interest Company, presumably after the Chief Executive has been appointed.

The Councils are seeking “development partners” who will invest in restoration of the Small Mansion and Stables in return for long leases. There is a possibility of an Enterprise Grant from the HLF, and Historic England wants to ensure appropriate uses for these buildings, but there is no restoration funding available from the two Councils. The closing date is 27th January and the partnership proposal will be sent to both Cabinets in May to be approved. Meanwhile the Museum Team is based in the Small Mansion. Provisional estimates for restoration are around £5m for each building.

The new sports facilities will make it one of the largest sports sites in London. The total cost is estimated at £14m of which £10.8m has been agreed. The layout of the pitches has been revised to minimise the impact on neighbours. The Multi-User Games Area will be installed later and the proposals for the Golf are not yet finalised. The new Tennis Courts will be finished by June this year. The plan is to find an operator for the new facilities in May and the project (with its building) to be completed by the end of 2018.

The audience was encouraged by all this news, and that there would be more life in what has become a rather barren place. Issues raised by the audience were about the need to improve paths in the park, the regulating of access and car parking for so many more visitors, the amount and timing of light pollution, the current difficulties with security (cutting locks, breaking fences) and how this will be managed, the amount of free activities which are being planned (trim trails, outdoor gym equipment, free or nominal charge activity programmes etc), the future of the house on the corner of Lionel Road.

The Project Team plan to hold a further update meeting in March.

James Wisdom
29th January 2017